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A New Approach: It's No Longer About Retirement, It's About Reinvention

The New Financial Realities: Personal Statement by Eleanor Blayney, CFP(R) Consumer Advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board)

WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 11/25/09 -- The financial events of the last year have made the prospect of a secure retirement or financial independence seem like an impossible dream for many Americans. Since we cannot undo the impacts of our economic crisis, we have to change the way we think about retirement and the last third of our lives. There are new financial realities: the old rules no longer apply. We must re-examine some basic assumptions and consider some new approaches. Over the course of this series, we are looking at nine important financial strategies. This week: It's no longer about retirement; it's about reinventing yourself and remaining productive and engaged for your entire life.

When Social Security legislation was enacted three-quarters of a decade ago to provide pensions to Americans starting at age 65, the assumption was that retirees would draw benefits for only a few years before they died. Over the past several decades, the quality and quantity of life for senior Americans has changed dramatically, But our definition of a normal retirement age has not: we still think of 65 as the opportune time to retire. Even before the economic crisis of last year, what most Americans had put aside for their senior years was inadequate to the lifestyles they hoped to live. Then came the recession of 2008 with widespread job loss, reduced employer contributions to 401(k)s, declining investment values, low yields on fixed income, and homes under water: a perfect storm for the baby boomers preparing for retirement.

Americans, ever resourceful, must now make a virtue of necessity. We need to change our plans for how we will spend, and finance, the last two to three decades of our lives.

Here are a few things to consider:

--  Don't think retirement: think reinvention.  Make your senior years a
    time when you will work by choice, rather than work by necessity.  Consider
    putting the skills and interests you have developed to productive use in
    new part-time or full-time endeavors.
--  Health care inflation is one of the biggest threats to the financial
    security of retirees, do what you can to keep your costs in check.  We all
    know what that means:  healthy eating, exercise, and regular, preventative
    care. Staying productive has also been show to improve both the mental and
    physical health of senior citizens.
--  Reexamine your priorities and be creative with trade-offs. Less house
    could mean more travel or medical coverage.  Consider this: managing your
    spending is as important as managing your income.  Every dollar you don't
    spend is worth as much as $1.40 in pretax income.
--  Get involved with your community.  Learn about the resources and
    activities for seniors offered where you live.  Better still, help to
    create and build these resources.
    

As the Consumer Advocate for CFP Board, I urge you to redefine and reinvent your life in retirement. Think of it as a new beginning rather than the end of your working life. It is never too early, nor too late, to plan for the last, important decades of our lives. There are more than 60,0000 CFP® professionals who can help you build new income, investing, and spending strategies for surviving and thriving in your retirement. Go to www.cfp.net and learn how a CFP® professional can help you.

To view the new financial realities series, please visit http://www.cfp.net/learn/advocate.asp

Eleanor on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EleanorBlayney

Eleanor on FiLife: http://www.filife.com/user/eleanorblayney

Eleanor on LifeTuner: http://www.lifetuner.org/users/eleanorblayney

About CFP Board:

The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board's mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® certificants and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(TM) and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes more than 60,000 individuals to use these marks in the United States. For more about CFP Board, visit www.CFP.net.

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